Just kidding about the economists. Sort of.
Jay Currie was kind enough to tag me with a new meme that’s been spreading around the Canadian blogosphere thanks to the efforts of the Great Zerb. Whether or not this meme takes on the life of the wonderful book meme remains to be seen, but I doubt it, as it is a lot more restrictive, and requires more thought. But that’s what makes it interesting to me.
You are supposed to organize a committee of eleven smart and famous individuals to gather together and “rule your world”. The catch is, you only have a list of 100 individuals to work from, seen here at this BBC website. You must pick at least one leader, one thinker and one economist. The other eight individuals are totally up to you. And if you can explain your picks, then you’re blogging productively.
I’m up for a challenge, so here are my names:
1. The Dalai Lama.
2. Desmond Tutu
Tom Harper once said, “If I couldn’t be an Anglican, I might be a Quaker.” In that vein, If I couldn’t be a Christian, I might be a Buddhist. The philosophy of moderation appeals to me, and the Dalai Lama never fails to impress me with his thoughtfulness, and quiet resolve.
A South African Anglican minister who did his part in fighting apartheid, Desmond Tutu is on the list because he shares my faith and my interest in social justice. I am also salivating at the prospect of listening in on the conversations between him, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.
3. Nelson Mandela
4. Tony Blair
Nelson Mandela not only led his people to freedom, he managed to transform South Africa into a multiracial society without the country falling into complete violence and chaos. He’s no pacifist, but I think that’s forgivable given the injustice he fought against, and his true character can be seen in how he has treated all South Africans since the end of apartheid. He is quite possibly the most capable, most important world leader since Reagan and Gorbachev. Of course he’s on the list.
Tony Blair joins the team because of his pragmatic leadership and congeniality. I don’t think he’ll go down in history as a great leader, but he has an undeniable presence on the world stage. And, after Britain (through Thatcher) clawed its way back from economic ruin, he gave the country precisely what was needed: stable, managerial leadership. He’s Bill Clinton without the libido. And far more approachable than John Major.
5. Steve Jobs
6. Bill Gates
Steve Jobs would design all of our computers and the software that ran on them. We’d listen to all of our music on his superneat iPod nanos. Bill Gates would be aboard to show us how to make simply ludicrous amounts of money. But mostly these individuals are here to provide the entertainment. Them and a big vat of mud.
7. From the arts: Stephen Spielberg
8. From the arts: J.K. Rowling
9. From the arts: Salmon Rushdie
Maybe not the most actually artistic individuals on the list, and certainly not the type of artists and writers I typically hang out with, but J.K. Rowling comes aboard because she’s been wildly successful in the field I’m hoping to break into. She’s savvy, and for the most part doesn’t appear to have let success go to her head. I haven’t read anything that Salmon Rushdie has written, but he joins the list because he is the poster boy of persecuted writers everywhere, and I expect him to take the lead in the fight against censorship and for freedom of expression. (Judy Blume would be my substitute if he wasn’t available and I could include any young adult writer in my group)
Stephen Spielberg? Possibly the most capable filmmaker of the group. Even his mediocre movies stand out among the dross of Hollywood, and he has made some of the best films of our time. If I could substitute any film director, I’d pick Hayao Miyazaki.
10. From sports: Tiger Woods
I am not a sportsman, and this list has a dearth of non-British individuals in this field. But sports is important to a lot of people in my world, so it too deserves representation. Tiger Woods gets on this list because he seems a nice guy, the best in his field, and he’s adept at challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers.
If I could substitute anybody, it would be the entire roster of the Chicago Cubs, because they know heartbreak.
11. From design: Ingvar Kamprad
You can tell you’re in the future because all of the furniture is designed by Ikea. Or some other, more whacked out individual. Ingvar Kamprad, possibly the world’s richest man ahead of Bill Gates, got where he was by designing good quality furniture that appealed to the masses and wasn’t too expensive. As a corporate citizen, Ikea has a good record. He brings a Calvanist work ethic that will keep the other members of the committee on their toes, but still enjoying their jobs.
Who Should Be on the List
As this is a BBC list, it’s heavily skewed toward those individuals Britons would recognize. This leaves a lot of people out. Where is (as Jay noted) Jane Jacobs? As I am an urban planner, of course she would be on my list. Where is Frank Lloyd Wright? His urban planning ideas were wackier than even Corbusier’s, but there is no argument over the fact that he was an architectural genius, and has to be front and centre of any design committee.
There are no Canadian politicians on this list (which is no surprise, no matter how much of a nationalist I am), but if there had been, I might put Pearson or Trudeau there. Or maybe Bob Rae or Joe Clark. One of those four, not more. And what of former presidents? Is this list confined to just the living? (If so, I guess Frank Lloyd Wright is off, since you can hardly design things as a skeleton)
Now to tag five individuals
I’d be interested in responses from the following individuals: